Death came knocking at our door last week.
The bell did toll for Tiger, the Goldfish.
It was to be Master H’s first lesson is the classroom of life and death.
As with anything that involves either (a) grief or (b) gross-ness I got out of there fast as I could, and let the last rites and burial be left to the Husband and Son to oversee. Plus, fish aren’t really my forte. Perhaps if we had a cat it might be a different
kettle of fish story…
As I fled from the scene of the fishy demise, I heard the husband muster up his gentlest, most serious daddy voice, asking his son to sit down and listen carefully. He them began to impart a lesson on all things life and death that has just befallen Tiger the Goldfish. From my limited viewpoint the child seemed more distracted than disappointed, but nonetheless, I thought I’d better be a responsible parent and follow up the occurrence early the next day.
“So baby, you know what happened to Tiger, don’t you?” I asked kindly, lest I conjure up any unpleasant leftover emotions from the night prior.
“Yeah. He’s dead,” came his completely disinterested, blunt reply. He didn’t even glance up from his Weet-bix, and his face was void from all emotion.
I thought I’d try another approach, perhaps a conversational one would get him talking…
“So you know what that means?”
“I tried to touch him and use magic make him alive but it didn’t work. He’s buried.” Again, no eye contact, and certainly no tears. Well, at least I’d be spared to undertake any grief counselling – I’d seen far more reaction to a plate of vegies served up at the dinner table than the loss of one of his pets. In fact, he’d been more distraught over losing his Lightning McQueen car weeks before…
I’d definitely not been so easily placated as a child we lost beloved pets. And oh my, there had been a few… At one stage we had our own version of Pet Cemetery happening in our back yard after a particularly rough trot of untimely demises…. So much so that the emotional toll meant my parents vowed if this next pet didn’t survive we’d had to go back to playing barbies instead.
Churchill the cat then lived for 15 years. I was 23 when he’d died and I mourned him as much as any human who’d been in my world taken too soon.
Perhaps the pre-schooler is just too young to grasp the concept or perhaps my self-imposed exile from the scene made light of the whole scenario, leaving him less than concerned by it all. Whatever the case, we got off lightly with this first taste of pet bereavement. The Husband however, is gratefully accepting all messages of condolence and sympathy, should you wish to send some his way…
How did your first ever pet loss affect you? Have you had to deal with this lesson with children?